Accomplishments

When we raised the statewide minimum wage in 2013, before movement organizers had convinced most politicians, I fought for an even larger raise. I was also the first male legislator to sign on to affirmative consent convincing many of my colleagues to do the right thing. Every year, I lead the bill to restore felon voting rights, a once radical issue that I’m proud to have made bipartisan.

Local Government

  • Capitol Long-Range Implementation Committee (CLIC): In 2007, I was appointed by Mayor Rybak to CLIC and served until 2012. During that time, I served as the chair of the human development task force
  • Bottineau Light Rail Transit Policy Advisory Committee: From 2010-2013, I served as a core team member and co-facilitator in developing proposed routes for LRT in North Minnapolis
  • Northside Residential Redevelopment Council: From 2005-2012, I served on the board of my neighborhood association, supporting Willard-Hay and Near North
  • Great Cities Design Team: I was selected by Mayor Rybak to serve as a team member for 2006-07. Projects I assisted included the Washington Avenue re-design and the Penn Ave. and Lowry Ave. project

Criminal Justice Reform

  • Ban the Box: I was the chief architect of a bill to ban employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background
  • Drug sentencing reform: I prevented Republicans from blocking reduced sentencing reforms for nonviolent crimes
  • Justice 4 All: My first involvement in community organizing was with the Justice 4 All program at TakeAction MN, working to change our criminal justice system. As a state legislator, I have carried the bill to restore voting rights to felons every year

Housing

  • Housing Bond: I’ve helped to secure over $200 million in funding for affordable housing programs statewide
  • Homeless and Highly Mobile Families: Established a pilot program with the Northside Achievement Zone that provided rental assistance to homeless and highly mobile families with school aged children
  • Housing for low-wealth people with HIV/AIDS: Worked with a coalition to pass reforms that allowed for Clare Housing– an affordable housing complex that also provides supports services for individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS– to fully function
  • LEED Accredited Professional: Received LEED accredidation in 2006, a cerficication measuring an individual's competence in environmentally-friendly building design

Policing

  • Training: Secured funding for every officer statewide to go through conflict de-escalation, cultural competency, mental health response, and implicit bias training
  • Stopping Anti-Protest Bills: This past session Republicans at the legislature attempted to pass two bills to criminalize nonviolent protests. With the support of movement organizations and other legislators, we fought back against the bill

Healthcare

  • Access to healthcare: Voted in favor of MNsure, legislation that provides health care coverage to all Minnesotans, resulting in a 98% insured rate by 2017
  • Clean needle exchange: This year, I sponsored legislation to expand access to syringe exchange programs statewide to reduce disease transmission and save lives

Workers

  • Minimum wage: Sponsored the legislation at the state-level to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50
  • Expanding parental leave: Fought for the bill which expanded mandatory parental leave from six to twelve weeks.
  • Beating back preemption: Republicans, working on behalf of the Minnesota Restaurant Association and other big businesses, attempted to pass a bill preventing Minneapolis from raising the minimum wage and implementing earned sick and safe time. I fought this effort every step of the way—at protests and rallies, in committee meetings, and on the floor of the House

Education

  • Universal Kindergarten: Advocated to pass a bill to fund all-day, no-cost kindergarten for children statewide
  • Expanding access to Pre-K statewide: Co-authored legislation to fund a voucher program to allow families statewide to send their children to pre-kindergarten
  • Fighting to keep North High School open: In 2010 there was an effort to close North High School. I fought with a coalition of community members and organizations to keep the high school open. Since then, it has increased graduation rates by 40%
  • Affirmative Consent: I was the first male legislator at the Capitol to sponsor the legislation to require affirmative consent standards at our state’s universities and colleges
  • Tuition Freeze: Passed two year tuition freeze for all in-state students at all public higher educations institutions, saving the average incoming first-year student over two thousand dollars a year

Environment

  • Expanding clean energy access for small businesses: I authored a bill that increased for small business owners to reduce their carbon footprint by financing investments on their tax assessment
  • Lead-testing for water in Minnesota Schools: I worked to pass a bill that required water to be tested for lead in schools statewide
  • Bush Fellowship: In 2012, I received a Bush Fellowship to study the effect built environments have on the health and well-being of both individuals and communities

Transit

  • Bottineau Light Rail Project: I was appointed by the Minneapolis Urban League to serve on the Bottineau Light Rail Policy Advisory Committee
  • Funding the 26th Avenue bikeway: Through my work with the Capital Longer Range Investment Committee, I worked to secure funding for the 26th Avenue N bikeway that connects Theodore Wirth Park to the Mississippi River
  • Washington Avenue Re-design: I was appointed to the Great City Design Team and worked with the team to create a pedestrian-friendly corridor along Washington Avenue

Community Organizing

  • Foreclosure Crisis: During the 2008 home foreclosure crisis, I knocked doors with the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition to connect neighbors who were struggling with mortgage payments with services to help keep them in their home
  • 2011 North Minneapolis Tornado: After the deadly tornado destroyed homes in North Minneapolis, I worked under the American Institute of Architects to provide designs services and assistance to families affected by the tornado
  • Single Sort Recycling: When Hennepin County introduced single-sort recycling, I participated in the pilot outreach program to connect with people in my neighborhood around the value of single-sort recycling
  • Vote No: After winning my primary election in 2012, I spent the remainder of my summer and fall doorknocking my district to defeat both the marriage and voter ID ballot initiatives

Intergovernmental Work

  • Funding for transit projects: Through bonding bills, I have secured funding for the Bottineau Light Rail, the Southwest Light Rail, and the Penn Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Way
  • Funding for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB): In my work at the Capitol, I secured funding for the MPRB, including summer youth employment programs
  • Nicollet Mall Redesign Funding: Secured $21 million in funding for the Nicollet Mall renovation project

Infrastructure

  • Capital Long Range Implementation Committee (CLIC): I was appointed by Mayor Rybak to serve on CLIC for five years where I successfully advocated for increased funding for construction and maintenance of bike and pedestrian infrastructure
  • Funding for our city’s parks: Through CLIC, I worked to re-establish a relationship between the city and the Park Board, which resulted in more funding for the operation and maintenance of Minneapolis’ parks system

Small Business

  • Statewide growler bill: Craft beer brings a significant economic value to our city’s economy, which is why I wrote the growler bill, allowing small beer breweries to increase their production from 5,000 barrels to 25,000 barrels without losing the ability to operate their taprooms
  • Owned small business: I co-owned a small construction business of a dozen employees, building, repairing, and refinishing homes